Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This night I went out to see the movie Surrogates. It got an amazing 6.8 stars at IMDB, and had some good reviews elsewhere, but it turned out to be a quite odd movie. The whole story seems highly compressed, so that the motives of the good and evil forces are hard to understand. Actually, I could not figure out why the bad guys do what they do... The overall plot idea is quite good, and it even feels like a Philip K. Dick novel. But execution is too rushed. I call for a remake.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The new and improved PSP Go is becoming available on October 1st. The reviews are pretty good, even from Joystiq (text, video). Only, for people who have already a PSP, the price is beyond impulse-buy, despite the extra features like "game freeze" and "PS3 Controller". Everyone else may be ready? The competition from the iPhone/iPod is however growing. Myself, I am proud owner of a first generation PSP, and the trusty machine delivers many hours of video playback on the long flights. I am still working my way through the B5 series.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
An interesting low cost experiment resulted in this incredible footage of a balloon with a camera climbing to 62 miles altitude. Hard to believe, but it seems real. The camera then came down to earth with a parachute and survived - without hitting someone on the head. Also fun is that the microphone was open all the time. There are sirens in the beginning, and even when the camera came down some stuff is audible. Check their home page for the details.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
There is an update of the Windows Picasa application. It seems overall faster, and adds as main feature Face Detection. After a lengthy scanning process (after all, I have more than 25K pictures on my HDD) it finds a lot of people, more than 10,000 faces in my case. It is somewhat tedious to attach names to all of them, perhaps this is a winter evening task. Once a person is identified, Picasa matches other pictures of that person. The accuracy is mixed: there are some strange failures, but also some great matches. Most funny to me: Picasa correctly identified myself in my Vulcan outfit. Ears and hair does not seem to be a parameter.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The German Oktoberfest 2009 is reason enough for the Big Picture to bring up a photo sequence. I personally think it is overrated, and it does not give an accurate picture of the German beer culture. Perhaps I am biased by my north German roots.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Fox aired the first episode of Fringe, Season 2. Too bad, despite expectation, Leonard Nimoy did not show in that episode, they save him for later (I hear October 8). The show decided to take the X-Files route, and add the ongoing twist if the "Fringe Division" would be closed or not, including Senate hearings and other Deja-Vu moments. That is too bad, since the show used to have own momentum. The first episode of the second season was quite busy with preparing the cast: getting rid of some faces and introducing new ones, so I did not like it too much from the plot point of view. I also did not see the Bald Guy. But the expectations are high, now that the setup is done.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Wall Street Journal has an article discussing the Obama Adminstrations stance towards Net Neutrality. The topics will become more important over time, as high bandwidth services grow. A slightly biased instructional video is embedded below.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The Huntington trip causes a third posting: We found a pretty large bug in the Huntington Botanical Garden's Rose Garden. About 2 cm lang, slightly greenish. Some pics are at Picasa. It was munching along in a rose flower. Big question: did we see a Japanese Beetle? These are no good in America, there is even a information page at the USDA. Their information poster talks about "six white spots" which we don't see. So it is all good?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
During the Huntington Botanical Garden tour yesterday I made a picture of a butterfly, and posted the question "who knows this one?" to Facebook. Sure enough, trusty friends identified the species within a few hours. The Facebook Photo Gallery is here, and the species is a Gulf Fritillary - see the picture below. For those who wonder about the Mystery #1: it's on Facebook as well... a Western Tiger Swallowtail.
Friday, September 18, 2009
We went on a daytrip to see the Huntington Botanical Garden in northern L.A. Getting there took two hours, getting back in the evening three - there is always rushhour in that direction. The trip was worthy: The Huntington Botanical Garden is a huge area a large variety of plants, including roses and cacti. See photos at Picasa. There is also the well known library, a lot of outdoor sculptures, and a teahouse. They offer for flat $25 tea, scones and english style sandwiches. Somewhat expensive, but quite good. They claim that reservations should be done, but when we came in there was room to spare.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here is another iPhone App for which I actually paid money. The app is somewhat free, since you pay for the service using it: sending physical postcards by mail. The idea is that you would make a picture with the iPhone, and then transfer it to the Shoot It service for printing and mailing (appstore). They support many countries, including US and Europe. This is a fun way to reach someone who is not an email addict... The costs are high: $0.99 for the US, and $1.49 for Europe except UK ($1.24). One free card is included, hence the app costs are compensated. They actually print and send EU cards from UK, and therefore it takes a while to reach the destination. It took a week for Germany. The quality of the print is fine.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I am in the market for a netbook for travel. It is supposed to be cheap ($350?), have a long battery life (5h) and light (below 1.5kg). A webcam with microphone should be there, it should run Windows XP. Any recommendations? Right now Acer and Asus appear to be most suitable, or Dell Mini 10?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Here is a standout game for the iPhone: GeoDefense. It is one of the many Tower Defense style games, but it is very well executed with an incredible level of detail and smooth animation. It comes at a cost though: the 3GS iPhone gets hot, and the battery drains quickly. The objective of the game is to prevent critters from reaching the end of a path by placing various towers with lasers or canons along the lines of that path. The easy levels are easy, but then one must actually use a strategy to beat the game.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
That was not good: after installing iTunes 9, my laptop lost it's authorization for my Apple account. Strange, I did not do anything wrong (I think). The really bad thing is however that subsequently, a sync to the iPhone removes all apps and their settings from the phone. Perhaps I could have done a restore at this point, but iPhone 3.1 was installed while losing the apps, and I did not want to undo that. Reinstalling apps was easy, but all the layouts and settings needed to be re-entered.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Back from the Germany trip, from TXL to FRA to LAX to SAN. The airline sold the trip starting at 12:05PM from TXL, giving an hour to transfer between the legs. It don't think that this works easily, so I changed to an earlier departure and spend the time in the lounge (better than running between terminals). A setback: no free wireless internet access in the LH lounge, and T-Mobile charges EUR 8 for one hour. That's disappointing, I would have expected a voucher of some kind.
Friday, September 4, 2009
We went to the Brauhaus Lemke am Schloss Charlottenburg for dinner - they offer homebrewed beer and various hearty food, including Berliner Eisbein - not everyone's favorite, but sometimes... The Brauhaus is a good place, take a look at their menu which is a nice Flash animation.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I am heading out to Germany for a few days, due to IFA. The flight is going from SAN to LAX to FRA to TXL. One could even mention the transfer between the United and Lufthansa terminals as a separate leg. LH457 (the long leg) uses a Boeing 747-400.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuaw posted information about the Yelp application for iPhone: after launching the app - on any screen - shake your phone a few times, and a panel will show asking if you want to enable Monocle. Then go to he screen with nearby point of interest, press the new Monocle button, and you will see camera pictures with attractions overlay - augmented reality. It is a little shaky, but generally works.